Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Under The Volcano Festival Of Art & Social Change August 9th 2009

Under The Volcano Festival Of Art & Social Change is an activist, grassroots gathering held at Whey-Ah-Wichen Cates Park on the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver, BC every August. Under the Volcano is Canada's largest political arts festival and is 100% volunteer produced. The festival takes its name from the well-known book of the same name by Malcolm Lowry, who squatted in Cates Park in the 1940s.

The festival was started in 1990 by Vancouver social activist and artist Irwin Oostindie, and has been produced since its beginning by a dedicated group of volunteers. UTV has featured a number of high profile activists and entertainers in its 17 years of existence, including: Ward Churchill, Faith Nolan, Kinnie Starr, Kathleen Yearwood, Aztlan Underground, and Lourdes Perez.

Here is an interesting article from the Discorder website about the 2004 festival by Elle James:

In the 1940’s, Malcolm Lowry penned his novel Under the Volcano while living in a squatters shack at the water’s edge in Dollarton, BC. The spot was called Whey–ah–Wichen, “facing the wind” and is now know as Cates Park. The park has been a gathering place for 3,000 years: the Tsleil–Waututh First Nation used it as their summer camp, and thousands of hippies gathered there in the ‘70s for music and arts festivals. Some twenty years later, the Under the Volcano festival would begin there, named in respect for the counter–culture heritage of the site, and the long history of artists, squatters, and First Nations using the forested land

On Sunday August 8th, the park will host the 15th annual Under the Volcano, bringing together 8,000 people in a non–corporate cultural event to celebrate art, music and progressive politics. Fifteen years ago, the first UTV event brought in 300 people. As Meegan Maultsaid, a long–term participant in the UTV collective says, “We must be doing something right.”

Along with Meegan, I talked with Irwin Oostindie, the festival’s founder, and asked them how it all began. In 1988 Irwin helped to start a non–profit society called Youth Art Works, opening up youth–run arts centres in North Vancouver and Gastown. They soon discovered that gig production fees were exorbitant, and organised an outdoor protest gig to demand better access to community spaces. Irwin saw how easy it was to organise an outdoor gig, and made the move to formalize this into an outdoor youth music festival in a park
.Read more here.

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